cover image Greek Lessons

Greek Lessons

Han Kang, trans. from the Korean by Deborah Smith and Emily Yae Won. Hogarth, $26 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-59527-5

Booker winner Kang (The Vegetarian) explores the borders of the senses in this delicate love story. An unnamed Korean woman living in Seoul stops speaking after her mother dies and she loses custody of her eight-year-old son. An interest in language, though, continues to tug at her, and she enrolls in a Greek class. There, she begins writing poetry that catches the eye of her instructor who, unbeknownst to anyone else, is slowly losing his sight. Split between his dual homelands of Korea and Germany, the instructor picks up on the student’s search for a language beyond what can be expressed or seen with the naked eye, something the woman gestures at in her poetry: “a language as cold and hard as a pillar of ice.” In prose that merges memory, story, and poetry, Kang tracks how the two find in one another what is missing from the sensual world. This brilliant, shimmering work is never at a loss for words even when exploring the mind of a woman who won’t speak, and its pursuit of an authentic, exquisite new form is profound. Once again, Kang demonstrates great visionary power. (Apr.)